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Drone technology used in York & Rotherham to spot leaky water pipes from the air

Yorkshire Water is deploying high flying technology in the form of drones to help it identify leaks on its underground pipe network in York and Rotherham, as it looks to save millions of litres of water escaping from its pipe network.

The drones (UAVs) will be flying along 30km of underground water pipes stretching from York to Rotherham. They will be used to conduct topographical surveys and geo-locate hard to find assets such as inspection chambers, which will enable Yorkshire Water to spot leaks that it might not previously have known about.

It forms part of a wider approach by the company to adopt cutting-edge technology including space satellites to help deliver a new ‘predict and prevent’ approach to the maintenance of its infrastructure.

Across Yorkshire, there are over 31,000km of mains network that deliver over one billion litres of water everyday to homes and business across the region.

Simon Roxby, UAV Manager at Yorkshire Water said: “The use of drone technology is increasing every day throughout the business and provides great visibility of hard to reach parts of our pipe network, our reservoirs and our land. This innovation not only gives us a greater understanding regarding the condition of our infrastructure, but also allows us to inspect and survey at height in a safer and more efficient way.” 

Specialised sensors will be fitted into the drones with this information used to create 3D models of pipe networks to help detect leaks.

Adam Tate UAV Operations Manager at Team UAV added: “The technology we’re using to deliver this project on behalf of Yorkshire Water is truly ground-breaking. By fusing together a range of high precision sensors with millimetre accuracy, flown concurrently, we’re able to deliver data that isn’t visible to the human eye.”

The work forms part of a wider multi-million pound package announced last week by Yorkshire Water that will create 300 new jobs to help the firm become a top performer in the water sector.

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